Saturday, June 4, 2016

Rainham Marshes

This is a place we've been wanting to visit for a long time now. From hearing about it since we first moved to Kent 6 years ago to making the 15 min journey across the tunnel into Essex, we now have on our hands a spirited toddler who loves the outdoors and has a few ideas on the kinds of wildlife he wants to see. A while ago we were on a safari in a zoo, and as we pointed in the direction of giraffes walking in a distance, his little face lit up as he pointed to something he has spotted - "A Crow"!

It's a beautiful morning. Blue skies and gentle sunshine all around. We drive into Rainham marshes and walk into the visitors center. The helpful staff tell us about routes as we stroll off along the circular 3.8 km stretch that takes us around the parts of the reserve which have been developed. The reserve itself stretches far beyond with the high speed rail line drawing a boundary across it.

The marshes are part of the Thames estuary and was used by the ministry of defense for more than a 100 years. The M25 hugs the periphery and is a constant reminder of how close the city is as we walk through this beautiful stretch with golden reeds sticking out of the water. Migratory birds traveling along the estuary are often sighted here and we see lots of people with serious looking cameras scanning the waters to catch sight of some of them.

Signposts indicate what we should be looking out for and are both entertaining and informative.

Walkways make the entire route buggy friendly and we stop periodically to look out for water voles and birds. We see coots, mallards and geese and it's wonderful to be able to listen to bird song in the middle of the city.

Cows graze in the fields beyond and we occasionally see Eurostar trains zip past on the high speed rail track.

We pass a wall with numbers, which is supposed to be a firing range built in 1906.

We can see windmills in a distance against a backdrop of beautiful grey skies. Seeing the city at the fringes of the reserve is a reminder that these marshes have some how managed survived the onslaught of human development inspite of it arriving at it's door step. The RSPB now owns and maintains the site.

The walk takes us right to the C2C tracks and we can hear the hum of electricity from the power cables ahead. Petrified remains of tree trunks stand carefully preserved and are from a neolithic forest believed to be more than 6000 years old.

We are nearly at the end of our walk when we spot a frog beautiful camouflaged in the emerald green water, it's rhythmic breathing giving it away.
Also in the picture is what could be a water vole, but I can't be entirely sure.

When we finish the walk we spend some time in the very well maintained cafe and enjoy lunch of hot jacket potatoes and tea.
This has been a lovely walk and given how close it is to where we live , we will be sure to visit again.

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